Kuwaiti and Qatari populations are overwhelmingly vocal in their expressions of solidarity with Palestinians against the illegal Israeli Occupation, surveys show.
Mohammed Al-Awadi, a 14 year old Kuwaiti tennis player, has refused to face his Israeli counterpart in the Dubai Tennis Championships U-14, leading him to withdraw from the semi-finals held in Dubai, on Friday.
لاعب المنتخب الكويتي للتنس الأرضي محمد العوضي ينسحب من مواجهة لاعب الكيان الصهيوني في البطولة الدولية للمحترفين تحت 14 سنة والمقامة حالياً في دبي بعد وصوله قبل النهائي pic.twitter.com/KKW92X8Qs9
— كويت نيوز (@KuwaitNews) January 21, 2022
The tennis championship is being held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where the infamous US-brokered normalisation deals with the Occupation were signed under the Israel–United Arab Emirates peace agreement, on 15 September, 2020.
Member of the Kuwait National Assembly, Osama Al-Shaheen, tweeted in support of Al-Awadi, saying: “I invite the Sports Authority, the Kuwait Olympic Committee, and the Tennis Federation to honour the hero [Mohammed Al-Awadi] morally and materially.
Next to every Kuwaiti hero – he sacrifices, in commitment to sportsmanship, Olympic ethics and Kuwaiti legislation, which rejects injustice, racism and Zionism.”
The 14-year old tennis player has gained support from many social media users, particularly on twitter where his name has become a trending hashtag.
Wassila Oulmi, an Al Jazeera news anchor, tweeted on the matter saying: “Despite the wave of normalisation with [Israel] and the move closer to Tel Aviv, this Kuwaiti child withdrew from the International Tennis Championships in [Dubai] because he refused to face an Israeli player.”
Her tweet was retweeted by Khadija Benguenna, renowned journalist and TV presenter at Al Jazeera.
Jordanian political analyst and writer, Yasser Al-Zaatreh, whose many articles have been published on Al-Sharq and Al Jazeera amongst other platforms, also tweeted in support of Al-Awadi, saying: “[…] A kiss on your forehead, sweet boy. Your slap in the face of the invaders is more powerful than any other slap. I told them that Palestine is in the hearts of the sons of the nation; they carry it from generation to generation.”
Qatar has made their stance clear against the normalisation of ties between themselves and the illegal Israeli Occupation.
Last October, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani reaffirmed their position by dismissing the controversial Abraham Accords as non-aligning with the Gulf state’s foreign policy.
Grounding principles that had prevailed in the region over the last half century, of boundless support for Palestinians and rejection of the Occupation on Palestinian land, were challenged in the final months of the Trump administration as various states made moves to formerly establish ties with Israel.
Though historically part of the Arab League boycott of Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco were amongst the first countries to officially normalise relations with the Occupation, brokered by the US.
Whilst Qatar refuses to normalise political ties with Israel, the country still engages in controversial and indirect exchange with them.
Fenix, a micro-mobility company, whose biggest investor is the Israeli-based firm Maniv Mobility, launched an exclusive partnership with Aspire Zone in late 2021.
The company was the first Emirati start-up to receive Israeli venture investment backing after Abu Dhabi normalised ties with the Zionist state in September 2020, thereafter moving across the GCC to consolidate its presence.
A report by Doha News stated that, “In December , the scooter company announced the launch of its operations in Qatar, with Co-Founder and CEO Jaideep Dhanoa confirming to Doha News at the time that this was facilitated by Qatar’s Ministry of Transport [MOTC].”
Despite public backlash, the scooters remain roaming around the streets of Qatar.